Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 20 August-26 August 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
20 August-26 August 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 August-26 August 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
Piton de la Fournaise
21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Following 5 months of slow inflation at Piton de la Fournaise and a series of eruptions during May to July, a new period of heightened seismicity began beneath Dolomieu crater on 23 August at 1848. The first fissure opened in Bory crater around 2120, and the second fissure opened at 2210 on the N flank at about 2,450 m altitude. Both fissures were active for short periods of time. The final fissure opened at 2330 around 2,200 m altitude on the N flank. A lava flow traveled into Plaine des Osmondes.
Geological Summary. Piton de la Fournaise is a massive basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three scarps formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5,000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping, leaving caldera-sized embayments open to the E and SE. Numerous pyroclastic cones are present on the floor of the scarps and their outer flanks. Most recorded eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest scarp, which is about 9 km wide and about 13 km from the western wall to the ocean on the E side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures outside the scarps.